7 Essential Steps to Take Before You Begin a Job Search

7 Essential Steps to take before you begin a job search. It's time to find a new job. But before you hit submit on that application, take these steps to improve your chances of landing a new job.

You’ve decided it’s time to find a new job. Whether you’re a new college graduate or just ready for a change, it’s tempting to slap a resume together and start hitting apply on every job position you see on Indeed. But there are a few essential steps you need to take before hitting that SUBMIT button. Completing these basic steps will make your job search go more smoothly and will greatly improve your chances of landing the job you’ve always wanted

  1. Google yourself. Type your name in several combinations, for example, Anita Flowers. Flowers Anita. Anita Fraley Flowers. etc. (You can guess that I get a lot of florist shops!)  Recruiters and prospective employers will definitely google you, so you want to get everything cleaned up before that pic of your drunken self at your cousin’s wedding shows up on the screen of the hiring manager. Even if you’ve been pretty innocuous online, it’s best to check it out. Have a friend google you to see what shows up on a computer not linked to your accounts. Delete inappropriate tweets and posts, tighten your privacy settings, untag yourself in photos. Check all your social media profiles. Ask yourself “What kind of image do I project online?”  You may want to change your profile pictures. Go for something clean, upbeat and respectable. 
  2. Update and proofread your resume.The best resumes are clean and simple. Fancy fonts and colors are often off-putting and won’t make it through the computer robots in HR. Most companies now use computers to scan resumes for keywords. If the computer can’t read the version of Word or whatever you’re using, it will kick your resume out before a human even sees it. Check the website to see what format is recommended (PDF, Word, ASCII). Have 2 friends with great spelling and grammar chops proofread your resume.  57% of HR managers will immediately toss any resume with typos or misspelled words. If you’re not careful with the details of your resume, the assumption will be that you won’t be careful with details on the job. Find out 12 things to never include on your resume here.
  3. Link yourself in. Linked In is the professional version of Facebook and recruiters and HR managers use it. I've been contacted by recruiters on Linked In and even landed a job interview.  Create a clean, up-to-date profile with your work history and education. Add memberships of organizations and groups. Upload a professional picture. (Have a new one taken if necessary). This is your first impression for many employers. Make it a good one. 
  4. Make a network list. Write down everyone you can think of who might know someone who knows someone who can help you get a job and start contacting them. The reality is that more and more jobs are never advertised but are filled by word of mouth or personal recommendations. 
  5. Get clear about your finances. Take a good hard look at your expenses, student loans, living needs and come up with a specific income range that will be your target. What kind of salary will you need? What salary can you accept and still make ends meet? Be realistic. If you’re not sure about salary ranges for particular jobs, use the salary finder at CareerOneStop or a site like Glass Door to research your location.
  6. Order a copy of your college and graduate school transcripts to have on hand. You never know when they will be needed and it can take up to 2 weeks to receive them. When an employer says, “Can you forward a copy of your resume and transcripts?” you will be three steps ahead of your competition if you can do that immediately- even if you’re sending an “issued to student” copy. You can always follow up with the official copy if needed.
  7. Look in your closet and put together a professional looking outfit for an interview. Make sure your clothes are clean, in good repair and fit well. Clean and shine your shoes. You don’t need to rush out and buy new clothes - unless the only things in your closet are jeans and t-shirts - but be prepared.  When the recruiter says, “Can you be here by 2 this afternoon?” you want to be ready.

Go ahead and get started. You'll be 7 steps ahead of your competition and on your way to a great new job!